The change in power structures that occur in developed society once the image and the sign gain primacy over the real and the signified emerge from the decoherence of subject and object. This becomes predicate disintegration in the postmodern mindset; refusing to privilege a subject or alienate an object, postmodernism instead reviews assemblages of a perpetual flux of concatenated disjunctive predicates. Predicates without an object, predicates without a subject. This makes for difficult psychotherapy and philosophy alike, but this also creates the perfect phase-space for blurring any line between resentment and seduction, that is, alienated life and artistic revaluation. This mindset evolves organically from the influence of Feuerbach and Nietzsche, their critique of society waking up from early modern Christianity. Postmodernism secularizes the disintegration of reality in the wake of industrialized civilization, globalization, and the loss of faith in classical liberalism and technology. Not only is the sacred-in-itself dead, as Nietzsche claimed, the real-in-itself is dead, lacking certainty of former subject-object relations. The signified divorced from its referent extends into all language, science, and culture, due to the work of Kant and Hume.
“But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence… illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.”
– Feuerbach, Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity
as quoted in Society of the Spectacle
While Nietzsche held a principal place in Heidegger’s existentialism, Deleuze & Guattari combine the lineages of the school of suspicion, committing themselves entirely to rhizomatic diffusion; depersonalization, dehumanization, and decoherence are the only paths to total collectivism, as any amount of egoism breaks apart the flux. Predicate disintegration is the overarching goal in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus: the only way to cure the overproduction maladies of psychosis and capitalism is though the simultaneous removal of the subject and object. Private property, as objects, cease to exist automatically in a flux of collective predicates. Capitalist subjection ends when society relinquishes the subject. While this seems like a radical conclusion, it is a natural paradigmatic evolution from the pluralistic existentialism. If the State apparatus not only entraps labor, but the entire social body and the full body of the Earth within its capitalistic bureaucratic machine, it becomes impossible to choose between accelerating the process or attempting the communist revolution. The flux of assemblages, stratified and mechanize, enclose subjected machines within a state autocracy.
In the opening of Anti-Oedipus, we find an elucidation of mechanized enclosure that occurs in capitalist psychodynamic alienation. The social totality, once comprised of free organisms that flow libidinal value without restriction, become a series of machines that break this flow. Breaking apart this flow means we do not “live nature as nature, but as a process of production” because the capitalistic dichotomy of consumer and producer splits every libidinal flow into a network of exchanges. To the human, everything is technological, and a world of desiring machines interrupt libidinal nature, confiscating its power. The odd mix of Freud with Marx interprets libidinal desiring machines as the interruption and redirection of flows for the sake of organization. Once the social body, human body, and cosmic body all become fully rationalized, all energy is a production process that is inescapable. Against this totalitarian enclosure, only one escape is possible, to cease any organization, distinction, or identity. Thus, when the State apparatus fully utilizes both production and anti-production, external as well as internal deterrence, through an image of the State and the subject that couples itself to the power of the War Machine, the only way to break out is in the body without an image, without organization, without fetishism of capital, sex, or identity, without any interpretation or intention.
The Body Without Organs is thereby a self-similar reproduction of capital itself. Because the fetishism of commodities and the multiplication of capital produces its own relative emptiness, the machine with an image, organization without life, is the essence of capitalism itself. From their psychodynamic-Marxist perspective, this is the origin of paranoia and psychosis. Yet this echo of “God is dead,” which became, “Capitalism is dead,” reveal the same emptiness, certainly. However, it is not the emptiness of the religious believer, but of the institutions attempting a secular reproduction of Protestant egalitarianism; it is not the emptiness of the capitalist, laborer, or consumer, but of the intellectual institutions expecting political economy to reproduce the meaning and significance of mystic natural chaos in the primitive milieu. For those of us who never expected the State apparatus to provide meaning, significance, or identity, the death of God (the French theocratic monarchy) and the death of Capital (the French socialist republic) are not only empty sentiments, but also foolish ones.
Freedom of speech, militia, assembly, religion, and property invest no personal identity. Capital has no identity, no goal, no vision. To Deleuze & Guattari, the machines of socialization and political economy all orchestrate their identities around the power of capital, but capital is a non-entity, it is a representation of potential future exchange. Thus, the hollowed-out ego and the hollowed-out capital are two identical dilemmas faced only by those who place their “bad faith” in the security of a centralizing, predetermined identity for both economy and self.
Finding that Capital-in-itself is the perfect complement to libido-in-itself, in the absence of meaning or significance, leaves one with the Body Without Organs. The paradox of a body without organs, however, is an intrinsic false consciousness resulting from a spectacular deception; the belief that the collective forms an independent bodily organism with volition and purpose of its own makes the “mind” and the “economy” something they are not, and were never meant to become. While D&G go to great lengths to intertwine Freud’s writings on Schizophrenia to the social unconscious of capitalism, we can regain our objectivity easily with a walk through a forest: walking along we find a “tree” with immense growth of fungi running up its trunk, we look up and behold its branches long gone, the upper bark gone, the wood beneath bleached by the sun. This is not a “tree” in the living botanical sense, but we would not call it a “corpse” or a “fungal apparatus” either. The body, which we predicated as a tree-subject turns out full of life not its own; the tree contains not tree-organs but is full of insect machines and fungal machines.
Seen this way, the Body Without Organs implies, not a machination, but a misunderstanding. We were simply wrong to ascribe the subject identity, there is nothing unheimlich about a tree that is full of life, but life no longer its own. Capital, like an Observer, is a perfectly empty vessel that contains none of the interrelated and decentralized value streams that make it possible. Precisely because of this, it works as socioeconomic construct that makes the interaction of networks of value streams possible.
Rather than finding existential “thrown-ness” liberating at the individual level, the Marxist intelligentsia treats the absence of predetermined meaning as a crisis at the social level. Capital taken as a universal, the fetishized social-in-itself miraculated to causa prima, becomes a Body Without Organs; the bureaucratic expansion of socialist rationalization brings about the replacement of organic sub-systems with disciplinary automation and mechanization. By tying Oedipus to Capital as the miraculated first-mover of generalized labor, they ascribe the disease of bloated economic enslavement to the wrong monetary power. Presenting Freud and Marx as a single critical voice anchors the anti-fascist pessimistic virtualization paradigm, but trading Oedipal fascism for adolescent narcissism appears the only distinction of the system. Following the chain, throughout the network, telling the narrative as energy diffuses into socio-libidinal fabric; these are excellent strategies of negative critical analysis. In fact, this strategy has no partisan leaning on its own. Anywhere a group isolates distorted evidence from statistical analysis, ignoring the dynamic interactions of the concrete entities underlying the population, seeing patterns where none exist because it fits their ideology, a rhizomatic analysis of real entities is the best path to refute the false hypothesis.
Combining Freud and Marx without a meaningful functionalism to replace the criticized system merely latches onto the bad faith of each domain, the psychodynamic and the capitalistic, to write philosophical poetry. The labor theory of surplus value, applied to a network of psychodynamic subconscious, gives mysticism and collectivism total license to invent fictional machinations.
The labor theory of value says the exchange value of commodities emerge from the average socially necessary production time for the aggregate supply, which does not account for the subjective or inter-subjective marginal utility basis of pricing. The Austrian school likewise applied the latter to currency itself to better account for inflation, recession, and other element of the business cycle. If we treat money as a commodity, then price represents the information between supply and demand regarding the marginal utility of the product and the marginal utility of the currency. The tentative “price” as an expression of utility and the actual currency exchanged as an actualization of trade blur into one entity for Marx.
However, the mystery of a generalized surplus value of labor disappears when we treat currency, loans, and capital as stockpiled commodities subject to marginal utility. The capitalist manages the marginal utility of credit, risk, assets, debt, and cash as much as investments, salaries, and liabilities. Even if we apply the ecological economics concept of energy expended over time, the capitalists commoditize their accumulated virtuosity as a reputation mortgaged through monetization.
To extend the productive capacity to libidinal exchange within the social body, libidinal energy must generalize to represent all valuation; including thoughts, promises, sex, and vague sentiments of culture. The same problem arises for each movement of the Freudo-Marxian refrain: libidinal exchanges not represented in actions of psychodynamic energy-time and social exchanges not represented in actions of labor energy-time become treated as repressions rather than admitting they did not exist. This diminution of particularized actions on behalf of a generalized subconscious asserts a universal that bears no similarity to reality. Mysticism is the only means by which a prophecy of hidden inter-subjective machinations will gain expression. The only real duplicity, in each case, lies in the partisan ascension that occurs on the foundation of such universals. Whether the universalization of castration anxiety or the universalization of class or racial plurality, the duplicity is the willingness to deny evidence based exclusively upon fictitious re-territorialization boundaries.
It is precisely the Oedipal mythology, Leninist mysticism, and Nazi occultism that reveals the ineffectiveness of bureaucratic machination. As Ludwig von Mises predicted in his treatise Human Action, no minority can maintain the subjection of the majority indefinitely. Nor likewise government expansion of “public” debt remain sustainable forever. The point is equally true of both Oedipal superego and fascist communism: the ego will not endure the “bad faith” of an artificial totalitarian all-father for long without madness or suicide as consequence. Viewed through the schizoanalysis proposed by Anti-Oedipus, The Body Without Organs is the final stage of bureaucratic socialism (or “late” capitalism) is the State apparatus no longer living as an organism, but as an autonomous machine, entrapping all organisms as its expendable, reproducible, automated cogs; desiring-machines that produce not only consumables, but also produce desire itself. Taken at its extreme, the only escape is insanity, revolution, or near-incomprehensible philosophy.